Friday, 30 October 2015

Book Launch - Talk Of The Toun by Helen MacKinven



Last night saw a group of us going along to support Helen MacKinven on the launch of her debut novel, Talk Of The Toun. We met the lovely Catherine Hokin & two of my friends who are not readers joined us, with my book lover friend making it, this was her first launch attendance.

The event was held in Argyll Street Waterstones and the lovely team at ThunderPoint assisted Helen with providing themed cupcakes and refreshments, pink glasses as modelled by Bimbo (the poodle on the cover) and some fabulous music of the time.





The turnout was fabulous, not an empty seat to be seen which isn't something I see at launches of a lot of debut nights. Helen read 3 passages from the story, I think the presence and strength of a reading can impact on how a tale is received by prospective buyers. She brought the characters to life and despite already having read the book, I was lucky enough to get an ARC, I wanted to read it again and reconnect with the characters. The crowd responded to all of the readings, the room rocked with laughter and the Q&A had a good participation from the crowd.





This is one of the nicest launches I have attended, there was a bit of an emosh moment at the end when Helen presented, two of her close friends who have assisted with the book cover design and support, a small gift. Then her publicist produced a beautiful bouquet of flowers to Helen. The book was launched yesterday 29/10/2015, available on the kindle for £4.00 and in paperback form for £9.99. You can find my review here http://www.alwaysreading.net/2015/10/talk-of-toun-by-helen-mackinven_12.html

The blog tour for this book is now underway, please support an author & bloggers and stop by. I got my ARC copy signed last night and will put it up for competition when it is my stop on the tour. Please check the dates below.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne

The Ice TwinsThe Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days (on and off)

Pages - 373

Publisher - Harper

Blurb from Goodreads

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past—what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?



My review

Angus and Sarah Moorcroft have been through the mill, it's been a year since one of their twin daughters died. Moving to a remote island in Scotland seems the best plan of action, Angus can get work, Sarah can fix up the house and do some work on the side and most importantly, their surviving twin Kirstie can move on. But when they get to the island, Kirstie has some news, she states she is Lydia and her parents have gotten it wrong. Things get spooky, the relationship between Angus and Sarah becomes strained and Kirstie or Lydia's behaviour is becoming increasingly disturbing.

So the whole creepy thing with Kirstie claiming she is Lydia begins early on and draws the reader in, it could happen, did they get it wrong? Then we see the strain of the past year taking its tole on the marriage, Kirstie becomes more erratic and the reader questions what exactly is going on. What happened to Lydia or Kirstie, which one died peeked my interest and kept me reading, I also liked the pictures dottered throughout the book. What I didn't like was how it took, what seemed an age, to get to the mystery of what was happening. The main characters weren't very likeable, both mother and father got very caught up in themselves rather than their surviving child. I felt some questions were left unanswered and some of the actions of the adults very unbelievable.

So many people loved this book so I am in the minority, certainly give it a go and see how you get on. I found it did have spooky elements and some suspense but there was more about this book I didn't enjoy than that that I did. 2/5 for me this time, I would read this author again as I don't think it was the writing that was my issue, more the story path itself.


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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Shafted by Mandasue Heller

ShaftedShafted by Mandasue Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 551

Publisher - Hodder

Blurb from Goodreads

Larry Logan is a small-time TV star with a mile-wide ego. When his latest show is axed, he is dismayed to find that the only work he can get is fronting a fake game show that is actually an undercover police sting designed to trap criminals. His reluctance evaporates, however, as the show rockets his career back to prime-time stardom, and when the lovely, shy Stephanie enters his life he thinks he finally has it made. But Larry doesn't know how dangerous those criminals are. He helped imprison some dangerous men—and they want revenge.


My Review

Larry Logan is a disgrace, at the top of his game on a tv show and raking the cash in he is rude, turning up drunk and rude and about to make the mistake of his life! When he pushes his luck one time too much he finds himself spurned from those who loved him, broke and fallen from grace. His only chance at redemption lies in accepting home truths, help from his agent and a new tv show that may boost him back onto the scene but at what cost. Liaising with producers and the police Larry gets involved in a new project were he meets Stephanie and Larry finds out the past isn't always easy to leave behind.

As always, I love the worlds Heller creates, the writing draws you in and the characters are despicable. Just when you think it can't get any worse for Larry there is another twist. I worked out one or two early on but there was plenty to keep you guessing and amused. Larry's life is just a car crash, you cringe for him and can see so many of hollywood's "finest" getting into one or two of these scrapes. 4/5 for me this time, I read this in practically one sitting, I have read most of Heller's work and will continue to do so. One of my fav gritty crime writers, for anyone who isn't familiar with this author, there is swearing, sex, drugs, violence and themes that coincide with the darker side of society.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Surviving The Evacuation - London by Frank Tayell

London (Surviving The Evacuation #1)London by Frank Tayell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days (on and off)

Pages - 201

Blurb from Goodreads

The outbreak started in New York. Within days the infection had spread to every corner of the world. Nowhere is safe from the undead...

Bill watched from his window as London was evacuated. His leg broken, he is unable to join the exodus. Turning to his friends in the government, he waits and hopes for rescue. As the days turn into weeks, realising inaction will lead only to starvation and death, his thoughts turn to escape.

Forced to leave the safety of his home he ventures out into the undead wasteland that once was England, where he will discover a horrific secret.

This is the first volume of his journal.



My Review

An outbreak that starts in New York soon finds its way to London. Bill is stuck in his house watching it all unfold as he is stuck indoors with a broken leg. As the chaos descends Bill knows that he will have to make a break for it if he is to survive, this story is Bills journal cataloging his journey.

As you may know, I love zombie/apocalyptic stories, this is a fairly thin read although I believe there is 7 volumes available. Bill is our main character, it is his voice and diary we follow as the events unfold and he faces the choice of staying safe indoors and starving or attempting to go out and escape where he has seen so many perish.

This is a bit different from the books I have read on this genre, it is told in diary format which isn't exactly unique however Bill has a broken leg. The outbreak is hard enough to try and survive without having a cast on and being slowed down. It builds up the tension as you feel the despair of the situation for Bill and things go quickly from bad to worse. There are a few surprises along the way and considering it is a lone voice telling the story and for the most part it is only Bill, the author manages to bring in other characters through Bills previous chats/memories and things he happens upon.

I think some people may have issue with this one because Bill has a cast on, one or two things that happen you question the validity however, it is a zombie outbreak book and I think it all works pretty well. I have already downloaded the second one of this in the series and can't wait to see what happens next, 4/5 for me and I definitely recommend it to fans of this genre.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Talk of the Toun by Helen MacKinven

Talk of the TounTalk of the Toun by Helen MacKinven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Pages - 288

Publisher - Thunderpoint Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads

‘She was greetin’ again. But there’s no need for Lorraine to be feart, since the first day of primary school, Angela has always been there to mop up her tears and snotters.’

An uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship, Talk of the Toun is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1985, in working class, central belt Scotland.

Lifelong friends Angela and Lorraine are two very different girls, with a growing divide in their aspirations and ambitions putting their friendship under increasing strain.

Artistically gifted Angela has her sights set on art school, but lassies like Angela, from a small town council scheme, are expected to settle for a nice wee secretarial job at the local factory. Her only ally is her gallus gran, Senga, the pet psychic, who firmly believes that her granddaughter can be whatever she wants.

Though Lorraine’s ambitions are focused closer to home Angela has plans for her too, and a caravan holiday to Filey with Angela’s family tests the dynamics of their relationship and has lifelong consequences for them both.

Effortlessly capturing the religious and social intricacies of 1980s Scotland, Talk of the Toun is the perfect mix of pathos and humour as the two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are.



My Review

The first thing I would say to anyone going to pick up this book is, it isn't for the easily offended. It isn't that it is out and out offensive however, it is set in Scotland, the mid 1980s and captures the people from the scheme and the language of the times perfectly. It is black humour, unpc and you find yourself laughing, sometimes out loud, at some of the antics and language which nowadays would be frowned upon and all kinds of labels flung about. The story centers around Angela, whose viewpoint the story is told from, and her best friend Lorraine. Angela has always looked out for Lorraine and lately their friendship is starting to get strained, Angela isn't about to let go and is sure when she gets Lorraine to Filey for the caravan holiday with her family all will slot back into place. However things don't go as Angela planned and events come to play that will impact their friendship and lives forever.

This book took me down memory lane, just some of the things discussed or some of the terms, I haven't heard geggie in absolutely years, just evoked a plethora of long forgotten memories. I think anyone who was born or lived during that time period will take a stroll back in time, not sure if that was the authors intent but it was a lovely wee addition and gift from just "reading a book". The main characters are teenage girls, seventeen and some of the things are a bit teen angst because well thats what they are. Angela, for me was a really dislikable character at times and as the story goes on you see a switch in the roles Lorraine and Angela initially played in each others lives.

One character I have to talk about, because in all honesty, despite not being a main character I think she stole the show. Senga, Angela's "gallus" granny was a typical figure from that time period, fabulous, straight talking, supportive but put you in your place when need be. I will be hitting the author up about any plans for a book on Senga herself and if not I really think she should. If you love books that delve into people from a scheme, with Scottish banter that captures the struggles of that time period, sectarianism, social divide and just trying to follow their dreams rather than the path carved out for a council scheme girl, then you will love this book. If I gave half stars this would be 4.5 for me so it is a 4/5 for me this time, I wasn't sure if the author was going to be able to round it up at the end but she pulled it off and it made me look at the character a little better than I had whilst reading. I think MacKinven is worth a watch and may well become a familiar name amongst authors who portray the Scottish people and times of old with affection and praise. Thanks to the author & ThunderPoint publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy this book from 29th October 2015, Kindle price & paperback from all good retailers.

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Stand by Stephen King

The StandThe Stand by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Publisher - New English Library

Pages - 1415

Blurb from Goodreads

When a man crashes his car into a petrol station, he brings with him the foul corpses of his wife and daughter. He dies and it doesn't take long for the plague which killed him to spread across America and the world. From the author of The Tommyknockers, Misery and Pet Sematary.


My Review

A military containment fails and Captain Trips gets out, a flu that wipes out most of humanity. What is left splits into two groups, one heading to Las Vegas to see him, Randal Flagg causer of nitemares or Colorado to Mother Abigail, a beacon of hope doing the Lords work. A whole host of characters, trying to stay alive because in a world where there is only good and evil, there are more scary things than the plague.

I read this years ago as a teenager, King is or was a huge favourite of mine so a perfect choice for Halloween reads. There is a lot to take in as characters and locations change but you soon get settled in and read as the world fall apart. This is the first time I have read the uncut version however it has been so long since I read the normal version I couldn't honestly say whats new and what wasn't.

Some of it is tough going, violence, murder, sexual abuse, evil, good and thats just some of it. I am sure most people are familiar with the tones of Kings work so you know what you are in for. The Stand is a great Apocalyptic type tale with many dimensions, the fall of society, the attempted rise of society, the battle of good and evil, the trials and sacrifices and of course love, betrayal, relationships and lies. 4/5 for me this time, I love King so of course I will be reading him again.

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Octobers giveaway is a signed copy of Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen





The lovely Tammy Cohen has a new book out just now, the paperback version came out last week "First One Missing" which is only £4.00 for the paperback on Amazon or £3.80 for the kindle http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-One-Missing-Tammy-Cohen-ebook/dp/B00T5H3XAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444566219&sr=1-1&keywords=first+one+missing



In order to highlight this, the book chosen for this months giveaway is a signed copy of Dying For Christmas.







Please note the kitty is not included in the competition :D



As always, please use the rafflecopter form below to enter, the more entries you complete the more chances you have of winning. This competition is open internationally as well, good luck and thank you for stopping by.



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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Goddess of Revenge by Jackie Collins

Goddess of Vengeance (Lucky Santangelo, #8)Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 516

Publisher - St. Martin's Press

Blurb from Goodreads

Lucky runs a high profile casino and hotel complex, The Keys in Vegas.

Lennie, her movie star husband, is still writing and directing successful independent movies, while Max, her stubborn and gorgeous teenage daughter is about to celebrate her 18th birthday, and her son, Bobby, owns a string of hot clubs. Lucky has everything. Family. Love. Life.

And everything is exactly what billionaire businessman Armand Jordan is determined to take from her one way or the other.

Born a Prince in the small but affluent Middle Eastern country of Akramshar, Armand comes to America with his American mother at an early age, and rises to become a real estate business titan. Armand regards women as nothing more than breeding mares or sexual playthings, so when his people inform him that the one property he covets more than anything, The Keys, is not for sale, he is shocked. That a mere woman would dare to turn down his offer to buy The Keys is unthinkable, and Armand vows to force Lucky’s hand whatever it takes. And so the battle for power begins . . .

Meanwhile Bobby is dealing with shady Russian investors, while his girlfriend—smart and independent Denver Jones—is becoming a Deputy D.A. in the L.A. drug unit.

And Max, Bobby’s seventeen year old sister, is busy embarking on a forbidden affair with a sexy young movie star. An affair they have to keep on the down-low lest Lucky finds out.
The word is that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and what happens in Goddess of Vengeance will blow your mind!



My Review


This is the 8th book in the Santangelo's series, if you haven't read any of them, go and get the firs one, do not start here. Lucky is our main character, top dog of her world, she is beautiful, powerful sexy and rich. The story also visits along with the life and doings of her seventeen year old daughter Max, soon to be eighteen and her friends. Her brother Bobby and the bad guy of the piece Prince Armand, rich and powerful in his own country and what he wants he gets. He comes to America, determined to buy Lucky's Casino, he always gets what he wants and no silly woman or anyone else will stand in his way. Women are beneath him, noone is above him and he will stop at nothing, not even murder to achieve his goal.

In typical Collins fashion, the book tackles everything from teen angst, family conflict, secrets, power, money, sex, drugs and violence to name some of the topics covered in this book. I love Jackie Collins, she is an easy read and her books are a tamer version of all she has witnessed in Hollywood. The writing is easy to get into and follow and as long as you aren't easily shocked or offended, sure there is drugs, prostitution use, misogyny and all kinds of swearing scattered throughout this book.

In order to enjoy the story fully I definitely suggest going back and reading the previous reads as the characters have all been through so much and some of it is referred to in this book. This is a perfect read at the end of a long day, by the pool or when you just need to shut off the world for a bit and read some scandal in another world, 4/5 for me. I will of course read this author again, I have her newest release just waiting to be picked up and read.



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Book Launch - Follow me by Victoria Gemmell

I accidentally stumbled along to this launch, I had booked tickets for another launch and was explaining to my friend the place looked set up for an event. A lady on the stairs said it is my book launch, feel free to come and join us which I thought was lovely. Turns out, I had actually been speaking to this author with another book lover on Instagram and hadn't recognised her or remembered the event I had commented on.







This was another book launch that was really busy for a debut. Victoria had clearly went to a lot of effort, little bottles of coke for people to take away with a wee tag, badge and straw. Cupcakes with personalised pictures of the books front cover (I absolutely love wee personal touches like this). She supplied wine, soft drinks and water which is always well appreciated by people who come out to these events. Something as little as water available is greatly appreciated, when authors go that bit further and bring their family and friends, it just makes the evening really special, well I think so anyway.







The author did a few small readings from the book, this is the first time I have experienced this, normally the author reads a chunk from one part of the book however it is always good to catch snippets and see different styles. I haven't read this book but I would be interested in hearing how it plays out.



I would certainly go to another event with this author and will keep an eye out for her book and wish her all the luck in the future.

Penance by Theresa Talbot book launch

Apologies things have been a bit quiet, I have a few reviews to catch up on, been to a few book launches and started a new job, exciting times!





The first was at Waterstones Sauchiehall Street and was for Theresa Talbots debut novel Penance, the blurb is from Amazon.

Oonagh O Neil has a challenge on her hands - and her head over a toilet bowl. TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O Neil faces danger and chaos when an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. His death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution. The Church has already tried to suppress the story. Is someone also covering their tracks? DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest s death. He and Oonagh go way back. But their friendship counts for nothing when Davies suspicions falls on Oonagh s married lover. Oonagh now faces the biggest decision of her life. But will it be hers to make? What secrets lie behind the derelict Institution s doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed it? And what happened to the three Maggies who vowed to stay friends forever? From Ireland to Scotland. From life to death.



Theresa is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer, she also has a previous book out about her, this is her first crime novel.





I haven't read the book yet however the reading from the book does sound quite good and I am sure I will pick up a wee copy along the way. The launch itself was a good night and quite busy. Theresa supplied refreshments of wine, water and juice which is always a really nice touch that some authors (often big well known names) don't bother with. It is lovely to see more books coming out from and about Scotland, if you have read this I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

After You by Jojo Moyes

After YouAfter You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Penguin Michael Joseph

Pages - 407

Blurb from Amazon

***THE SEQUEL TO THE WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON ME BEFORE YOU ***


Lou Clark has lots of questions.
Like how it is she's ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places.
Or why the flat she's owned for a year still doesn't feel like home.
Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago.
And will she ever get over the love of her life.
What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.
Then, one night, it does.
But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for - or just more questions?
Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe.
Open it and she risks everything.
But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she's going to keep it, she has to invite them in . . .


My Review

This is the long awaited sequel to Me Before You, one of my all time favourite reads, if you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you do before reading this. It has been 18 months since we left Lou Clark and her whole life changed. Now she is working in a bar in the airport, watching people jetting off to new destinations whilst she is stuck here. Things have changed so much for Lou, she isn't speaking much to her family, she just doesn't feel much of anything and is going through the motions. One night changes everything and brings new people into Lou's life, she has some big decisions to make that will completely change her life, one way or the other.

Oh I so missed Lou and her fabulous hilarious family. Like any other book you love on one hand you really want to know what happens next to the characters however there is that fear it can't possibly live up to your expectations. Moyes has tackled this challenge head on and done a great job to be honest. Less than 30 pages in I had gasped and burst out laughing, the story throws a curve ball you don't expect and smashes down the fears carried into reading this sequel.

There are new characters as well as some from the first book and I loved catching up with them, I can't say I was loving the new character Lily and some of Lou's actions, or lack of them really annoyed me. I wanted some of her feisty strong headed personality we knew of her before to shine through, however when you think of all she has been through I feel this is an accurate representation of how she would be and act.

This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster as is Moyes trademark, allow you to reconnect with some of the much loved characters from the first book and a few surprises along the way. 4/5 for me this time, was the book worth the wait? I think so, I definitely will be recommending this book to friends and family.



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Water Angels by Mons Kallentoft

Water AngelsWater Angels by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Publisher - Hodder

Pages - 471

Blurb from Amazon

A married couple is found dead in their jacuzzi. Their adopted five-year-old daughter has vanished. Inspector Malin Fors, the troubled but brilliant star of the Linkoping police force, is put in charge of the case.

But this is a haunting mystery where the borders have been blurred: those between the living and the dead, between good and evil.

Malin is only too aware of her own tendencies towards obsession and addiction. As the investigation takes a darker turn, forcing Malin to confront her own demons, will she hold out long enough to find the killer - and the missing girl - before it's too late?


My Review

Patrick and Cecilia are found dead in their jacuzzi, their adopted five year old daughter Ella is missing, Inspector Malin Fors is heading the case. The investigation starts with the family, searching Patricks computer to try and find leads. Who may have wanted this couple dead and most importantly, where is little Ella. If Foors can find the little girl or the motive, she may be able to crack open this case.

This is my first dance with this author and I am in the minority from the reviews I have seen in that I really didn't like this story much at all. The opening chapter itself, the prologue was confusing to start with although after finishing the story and re reading it I did understand it a bit better. We are briefly introduced to Fors and then a page where the writing is in italics, this is the voice(s) of the deceased couple. They feature a page or two throughout the book, merely viewing what is going on. I personally felt they really offered nothing more than observation of whatever they were looking at, that which the reader has just read with no new insight.

The characters all had a voice, the telling of what was happening at that time or interaction and then there was what they were thinking internally. This really wasn't required as I don't feel it offered anything at all to the story or event that had happened or was being discussed. The inspector is an HR nightmare and yet despite becoming erratic and more off the rails, she isn't removed from the case at all. A lot of the story is overshadowed by the personal thoughts and angst going on out with the case. There are a few random sexual encounters or inappropriate thoughts from people involved in the investigation. It didn't seem to be relevant or add to the story so I am not sure why it was included.

The mystery of what happened to the little girl kept me going, I wanted to know what happened to her, why were the parents killed and to be fair a lot of the main questions were answered which is why it scores 2 stars instead of 1. A lot of the behaviours of the characters are very questionable and for those of the officers I found it very hard to believe that would be tolerated in any department, let alone a murder investigation.

All of that said, this is the 6th in a series and a lot of people seem to love and enjoy it. It just didn't hit the mark for me at all. I won't be pursing the earlier works of this author, I just don't think the writing style is for me although a lot of people will enjoy the in depth insight you get to the characters every thought as the tale progresses. Thanks so much to the publicist for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review, 2/5 for me this time. Give it a go yourself, I would love to hear how others receive this if your reading this author for the first time or a long standing fan.



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